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Calas

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Calas was an early morning New Orleans snack, a hot, sweet-spiced rice cake fried crispy and served with the morning's cafe noir, or cafe au lait (that wonderful combination, half rich coffee and half hot milk). As New Orleans was going through her growing pains, this great breakfast drink was not only thought to be good for the health, but also a preventative for such infectious diseases as malaria. These Creole fritters were sold at the marketplace and at the railroad platform by ladies in gingham dresses with starched white aprons, who carried them in baskets, singing their vending song, "Belle Calas!"

Makes5 dozen calas

Cooking Methodfrying

CostInexpensive

Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursedessert

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealbreakfast, brunch, tea

Taste and Texturecreamy, crisp, sweet

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice
  • Salt
  • 1/2 ounce fresh cake yeast or 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for decoration
  • Deep-frying thermometer

Instructions

  1. Boil the rice in salted water until soft and mushy. Drain thoroughly and mash the rice until soft and creamy.

  2. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and add to the rice. Cover with a clean cloth and allow to sit overnight.

  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and creamy, gradually adding 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Fold in the spices and lemon zest.

  4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff and glossy.

  5. Combine the egg yolks with the rice. Sift the flour into the mixture and mix well. Fold in the egg whites and mix just until no streaks show.

  6. In a large deep heavy skillet, bring 1 inch of oil to about 365°. One at a time, drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

  7. Dust the calas with confectioners’ sugar and serve in batches of one or two dozen.

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